© 2016 ARMIN A. ZADEH

What Love is not

by Armin A. Zadeh

In our society, in songs, movies, and books, when someone feels an overwhelming sensation of longing for another person, we refer to it as love. This yearning may overtake everything else in a person’s life and unleash previously undiscovered energy. It involves simultaneous feelings of ecstasy and agony because of our hopes for, and doubts about, the reciprocation of our feelings.

Being “in love” is one of the most exhilarating emotional states, and many people associate it with the greatest happiness in life. Most of us carry some kind of romantic love story with us, which may be based on novels, poetry, movies, or personal experience. The intensity of the feeling and its hold over our thoughts and actions are so extraordinary that we may remember it our whole lives. We may chuckle inside recalling the foolish things we did when madly in love and how anxious we were to get even the smallest shred of attention from the beloved one.

When we fall in love, the world seems different, and our heads spin with fantasies and dreams. It feels as if we are under a spell. Nothing matters except the beloved. The exhilaration mounts into ecstasy if the beloved person reciprocates our feelings. No wonder that most people yearn for this sensation and that its portrayal is so central to the arts and entertainment.

The most powerful stories in our culture center on love. From Paris and Helen in Greek mythology to Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Romeo and Juliet, the greatest poets and writers mesmerized readers with their love stories. But is it conceivable that Romeo’s intense feelings for his Juliet were not love?

Well, does this kind of love last? Anybody who has ever been in love knows that the obsessive, all-consuming feelings of the early stages of a romantic relationship don’t last. In fact, research shows this phase lasts anywhere from months to a few years. We can even track changes in our brain and blood revealing the transient nature of these phenomena. Is then love not meant to last? It is, but we often confuse passionate feelings in early stages of romantic relationships with love.  But then what is love?